FIFA World Cup tightly contested

Roland Hacker

The knockout stage is set and the 2018 FIFA World Cup champions will be one of the remaining teams.

The reigning FIFA World Cup Champion, Germany, has already been eliminated from contention after a disastrous showing in the group play stage.

The very first match featured Lionel Messi leading Argentina against France on Saturday in a clash between heavy-weights. France was leading the match 4-2 going into stoppage time in the second half. Argentina scored three minutes into stoppage time to make it interesting, but France held on for the 4-3 victory.

Uruguay and Portugal also played Saturday. Uruguay broke a 1-1 tie in the 62nd minute with a goal from Edinson Cavani and held on the rest of the way.

On Sunday, Spain took on the home country Russia. Spain entered the match as the heavy favorites, but Russia refused to back down. The game was tied through regulation and extra time and had to be decided by penalty kicks. Spain scored on three of its five penalty kicks, but it was not enough as Russia scored on four penalty kicks and advanced to the second round.

Croatia took on Denmark following the Spain-Russia match. Croatia entered the match as the favorites. This match also had to be decided by penalty kicks as the score was knotted at one through regulation and extra time. Croatia prevailed, converting on three of five penalty kicks, and moved into the second round.

Brazil takes on Mexico on Monday in what should be one of the most exciting match ups in the first round. Mexico rode a big upset win over Germany into the knockout stage. Brazil is one of the odd-on favorites to win the world cup.

Japan will take on the heavily favored Belgium squad in the second match on Monday. The Belgium boasts some serious firepower, as indicated by the eight goals they scored in the first two games of group play.

Tuesday opens up with Sweden taking on Switzerland in a pretty evenly matched game.

Colombia will face off with Harry Kane and England later on Tuesday in the last match of the first round.